It’s hard to welcome a new year when half your soul is shackled to the past and it for a lack of trying to break free. But Time, I learnt, while trying to find a rupture in the shackles, will not let you start a new chapter in your life unless it deems it fit. To its credit, it did grant me momentary bouts of triumph of freedom, but it’d just pull me right back in like a child on a leash, the kind that’s strapped to the shoulders. If the child wanders way too far it gets taut and the parents tug gently to remind him/her to come back to them. In this case, I went back to Time and wallowed in memories that I, in a futile effort, tried to forget.

A lesson I had to learn – stubborn in my refusal to do so – was I had to face my demons. My life in the Garden City had its moments but it was definitely time to move on. People didn’t understand why I relocated to Indonesia; in fact, they were guying me for what they considered was a dumb move.  Old friendships had collapsed – I suppose it was part of breaking free from the past – making the cliché people will walk in and out of your life like they would in a supermarket reverberate loudly with truth. On a positive note, the true ones survived, which I am grateful for. It takes effort to maintain friendships and some were not just up to the task as I was so I severed the ties myself. A romantic relationship crumbled too.

With the coming of 2013 then, I realized Time had unbound me without me knowing. No one stood on ceremony. I just felt it like how the Skywalkers felt the movement in the Force when PR504 landed at the Ninoy Aquino airport. There were melodramatic journeys to the past of a former lover who accompanied me home and met my family. I, together with me and my shadow, landed alone but I wasn’t alone. My folks were waiting outside for me. That’s when I knew I was all right. A new beat was meandering in my veins and, for the first time, I was swaying to its rhythm with aplomb.

But really, on hindsight, it began at the Soekarno-Hatta airport as I waited for the Mabuhay check-in counter to open. I could have gone to the lounge but I wanted to check-in because it signalled I was on my way home. Wait, actually, the positive Force started even before I was at the Mabuhay check-in counter. Christmas cards were the little signs that Time was slowly breaking the binds it had put on me. I trooped happily to the post office with a few cards, which I dispatched to Canada, France and Ireland, and my spirit wasn’t dampened with the long queue I stumbled upon and the seemingly klutz of a clerk. I was mistaken about the latter because he even pasted the stamps on the envelopes and we muddled through the payment in his broken English. The last time I posted Christmas cards was eons ago because I was channelling Ebenezer Scrooge for years.

I was reading at the Mabuhay check-in counter when a woman approached me. I don’t take to strangers easily but when she asked me a question I, surprisingly, wasn’t curt with my answer unlike before. My gal-pal Shine’s bonhomous demeanour had rubbed off on me, I thought to myself.

Rhea, stranger-then-new-friend-now, asked where the PAL counter was, which I replied was in front of her. She had flown in from Dubai and had to transfer to a PAL flight but she wasn’t sure where to go. She was peeved at the lack of information and people to ask information from, which wouldn’t have happened if her former company had booked her with another airline that flew directly from Dubai to Manila. Soon after, we were exchanging tales over coffee and cinnamon roll at Starbucks.

It's always good to have a cuppa and pastry from Starbucks

It’s always good to have a cuppa and pastry from Starbucks

Food in Dubai is cheap, Rhea said, and was the reason she kept putting on weight. The rent, on other hand, she continued, was exorbitant that living alone in a flat was impossible unless you were drawing from a bottomless bank account. Church life – she’s a Jehovah’s Witness – is a huge part of her life so her weekends were filled with worship services and whatnot. She was happy to be coming home to Davao (she had to catch another flight the following day) and be with family, and care for her ailing mother. It was also a time for her to recharge her batteries before she start work in a new company.

The fact that I actually made a friend in the airport is no small feat for me. I took that as a portent that Time was pushing me in turning a page in my new life. Being jaded was no longer part of the situation. Wary – yes – but that’s a different element altogether in the narrative of life.

When strangers meet and become friends at the airport

When strangers meet and become friends at the airport

Philippine politics isn’t something you have positive vibes about. One really can’t help thinking most of the time that Philippine politicians are weak of mind. With the plagiarism case hanging over Senator Sotto and his team dovetailed with their inane justification about Sotto’s speeches published in newspapers, it came as an absolute shock to me that one politician garnered one tick-mark on his report card. That the whole of Quezon City is finally plastic and Styrofoam-less is credited to former actor-now-Mayor Herbert Bautista and team.  That’s just one politician so I’m not about to sing praises that all is well in Philippine politics. Far from it, but it does add a dash of positive energy in 2013. Making the dash of positive energy into a larger dose of positive energy is the passing of the Reproductive Health bill, which was signed on December 21 as the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012. The new law, in a report in inquirer.net, “mandates the State to provide the poor with reproductive health (RH) services, including access to contraceptives and sex education to schoolchildren.”  The politicians that pushed for its passing like Senators Pia Cayetano and Miriam Defensor-Santiago definitely got tick mark from me. Moreover, it showed the Filipinos – for those who were able to cotton on – how appallingly atavistic most of the politicians are on their views about women. The questions that ran through my mind when they voted against it were, “Why won’t they help women? Why are they allowing the suffering to continue? How can they view themselves as complete human beings?”

I am disheartened, to say the least, on how people can be so parochial about women when, in reality, they keep the whole narrative of life together even at the risk of their own lives, which is often the case. That gender discrimination still abounds is the snag in the train of positive energy that engulfed me when 2013 entered.  But my spirit is high in combating gender bias. The fight for enlightenment begins in my classroom where I rally my students to break the ceiling, question bigotry and champion equality.

The other snag is the aftermath of New Year celebrations in Manila. The belief in lighting firecrackers to scare off the demons of the old year and bring in luck has gotten out of hand. People, ironically, are risking limb and life for a new and prosperous life. Through the years, places in Manila have resembled war-torn countries after lighting all the firecrackers, which were discovered to have the explosion level of true-blue bombs. TV reporters have taken to reporting about the tally count of people taken to hospital because of firecracker injuries and short interviews of the victims who cry – in agony and in remorse (I hope) – about their foolishness. It’s galling to switch on to the news and see these people crying when they stubbornly refused to heed the call of the Department of Health, the news and common sense. Litter on the streets is another problem. It is galling that the merrymakers think that there is someone to clean up after their mess. There is a sweeper in our area who keeps the streets clean but it is unconscionable to have him clean up because of some people partied and left their mess.

Lessons have been learned and a new friend was made. The New Year’s rhythm is still playing and I am still dancing. It’s going to be a good year I feel it.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by ako_si_aoi on February 13, 2013 at 11:54 am

    awww lola naiyak ako ng konti,,,mga 1 patak lang 🙂 you’ve gone so far now from what you are years ago 🙂 group hug naman dyan!
    at congrats nde ka na masyado bichera sa mga estranghera hahahha


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